It's sort of a rite of passage for parents: dealing with a chipped or knocked-out tooth. Knowing in advance what to do if a dental emergency arises can minimize permanent damage and make the experience less frightening for your child (and for you!).
One important to-do right now: Keep your dentist's number in your phone. "Any dental injury, regardless of how minor it may appear, should be evaluated by your child's dentist because often there are other injuries that aren't as obvious," says Edward H. Moody, Jr., D.D.S., vice president of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and a board certified pediatric dentist in Morristown, Tennessee. "For example, a chipped baby tooth may not seem very serious, but the root of the tooth could also be fractured or the chip may extend so far that there's a risk of infection. Your child's dentist can determine the extent of the damage and suggest proper follow-up care."
Here's a guide to how to handle three common scenarios.
The most important thing to remember: "Never, ever try to replant a baby tooth that's been knocked out," says Lezli Levene Harvell, D.M.D,, a board-certified pediatric dentist in Newark, New Jersey. "Doing so could damage the permanent tooth coming in behind it." Instead, contact your child's dentist right away. He or she can examine your child and take steps to manage pain and prevent infection.
Ideally, you want to replant a knocked out permanent tooth as quickly as possible and seek dental care immediately. "A permanent tooth has the best chance of survival if it's replanted within five minutes," says Dr. Levene Harvell.
Though you can't prevent every stumble, fall, or sports injury, child-proofing your home and having your child wear a mouth guard when playing sports can go a long way toward avoiding common dental injuries.
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